- October 22nd, 2006
- 11:05 am
The term has started. In full force. No seating in the lunch cafeteria, lot’s of people all over the place, lot’s and lot’s of new students, and lectures and examples classes kicking off all over the place.
I’m leading an example class this year: linear algebra and geometry part 1 for the maths majors. One of six different examples class sessions for the same course. And apparently, my good tradition of going out drinking with my students keeps up: I went to the exchange students term-start party last friday, and while partying with the swedes and finns of the scandinavian Stammtisch on the dance floor, a girl squeezes through the crowds past us and asks me in passing if I’m not the examples class teacher. Turns out she registered for my class.
First contact with the students is on tuesday morning.
- October 8th, 2006
- 11:08 am
I get the feeling that my pledge to write the weekly reports regularily has been less than successful. So I’ll try to renew that pledge: I shall try to keep up the regularity of my weekly report.
Since last authored, I have been running a mathematics camp for 10th grade kids in mathematics-oriented schools. There are (apparently) 3 or 4 of those in Th
- September 11th, 2006
- 10:07 pm
I haven’t really been updating much here – and especially not the category Weekly Report. Slowly, it’s time to get around to it.
Now, there is a specific reason updates have been slow: I’ve been travelling. A lot. With very varying internet access and even more varying energy to spare for writing. It all started with two weeks of vacation in Sweden – spending time with my lovely fiancee, meeting old friends, and generally relaxing. She proposed (of sorts), and we’re getting married next summer. After the vacation, I went to Leeds, to the Triangulated Categories workshop, and then back home to Jena – only to go off again within just over a week, for the First Copenhagen Topology Conference, tightly followed by a master’s class in Morse theory lead by Ralph Cohen, and a simultaneous workshop on Morse theory and string topology.
The weekly reports have been dead for a while. Reason? The blog has been dead for a while.
The old computer running this website had some problem all of a sudden about 3 weeks ago. These problems appeared as a complete lockdown of the system – no response to anything. So my brother – with me on the other side of a telephone, tried to reboot the box; but couldn’t get it back up online again. He was headed out to a LARP anyway within hours – and so couldn’t really do much more about it.
End result? I joined forces with a good friend of mine; we split hardware costs for a slick new box – an Asus barebone box with a 64bit processor and a gig of RAM. It received the harddrive and network interface from the old box, and was with that good to go – only .. processor architecture changed; and so for optimal performance, it’d be a nice idea to actually use a new system install that took advantage of the extra available bitwidth.
It’s been a while since I managed to write one of these. The reason is simple enough – my weekends have been packed; and I don’t get around to it during the weeks.
During the last three weekends, first my parents and my brother, and then for the last two and the week inbetween my fiancée, have been visiting me in Jena. Thus, I have covered more ground in these three weeks when it comes to tourism than I probably will be able to do in several months. I have seen the Blue Man Group in Berlin (WOW!), I have seen the Dornburg, the Feengrotten and Weimar. I have eaten at the expensive luxurious restaurant at the top of the old university tower in Jena (it’s bloody scary, but quite cool – the restaurant is on the 29th floor; in a city where only one single house goes above 10 floors).
This is the second weekend in a row spent to more or less large part in the office, working with the product structures on cohomology. Reason for this is that I’m getting my share of the department seminars now – I’m to walk us through the Yoneda cohomology product; the cohomology-as-Hom-in-a-derived-category viewpoint; their equivalence to one another as well as to the cup product; and then talk about restriction and corestriction (i.e. what happens to cohomology when we go between kG- and kH-modules for H a subgroup of G)
This is all not really very bad – I really, really, REALLY need to get a solid grip of this myself too. Only; when I started working on it, I thought I had 4 days and not 11 to prepare in – and dove right into it. Maybe a bit too deeply, so when I (monday) found out I didn’t need to get it done THAT quickly, I kinda dropped most of it for the rest of the week. And now, I need to find a decent proof that cup products = Yoneda products. And I just realized that my books don’t really cover it.
I’m back in Jena now. The last week was spent working myself to the brink of unconsciousness trying to grasp homotopical algebra, simplicial objects, model categories and any and all things Alex sent my way. With some 6-8 hours each day spent on lectures and discussions explicitly held to enable me to understand what was going on, I ended up being halfdead from the mental exercise.
In addition, since I was back in Sweden, outside lecture times was spent almost exclusively socializing in one way or another. Meeting friends. Shopping. Watching movies and spex. And then top it off with an endlessly long trip back.
I left Jena going to Stockholm on Saturday. Thus, much of the week past has been spent in preparation for the trip – reading up on homotopical algebra; getting all the paperwork together and getting my things together for the trip.
Along with “Make sure you learn homotopical algebra” and “Get back primed and ready to teach when you come”, I also was instructed by my advisor to get in touch with $MATHEMATICIAN, who currently resides at Mittag-Leffler and whom he knew from earlier. He is, I am told, very good, very knowledgeable and definitely a resource to be tapped if I should have any chance of it whatsoever.
I desperately, sincerely need to get a better cheap travel route to Jena. This trip now took me €150-170 somewhere, but had a travel time of more than 13 hours. There has GOT to be a better way to go.
Right. It’s thursday. And I had some sort of hopes to do my weekly reports on saturdays. Only, last saturday found me back in Nuremburg, in the middle of a marathon party-after-party session with the RPG crowd there.
Last week was very much characterized by getting various conditions for my being allowed to go to Sweden next week, and getting various bits and pieces of general paperwork in order. In addition to that, I held my first lesson – an examples class in Algebra. Right now, we’re doing modules: general definitions and then the structure theorem for finitely generated modules over a PID. I have already noticed for my self what has been painfully obvious from observing bloggers and friends whining about their students – it’s obvious as soon as you set foot in the classroom who knows what’s going on; and these are the only ones who will give you any sort of life indication. I already started despairing about getting reactions from the people not running up to speed – especially since these also don’t bother handing in any kind of work for me to correct either. End result: I have no idea if I’m doing any good for those who need me, and only get responses from those who don’t. The teacher’s lament.
My first week has passed. Today is saturday; and the move took place monday. So far, I’ve been running around doing bureaucracy and little else (I managed to leaf through the first 5 pages of Evens: Cohomology of Groups). Along the lines – I’ve received a summons to appear in front of the immigration authorities to explain my moving in, I’ve ran circles around the city trying to get someone to approve my swedish birth certificate et.c.
My apartment is small, neat and nice. It’s some 4×5 meters, with bed, bookcase, two tables, wardrobe, kitchenette, toilet with bath, balcony. And then all the things I brought with me – including a bookcase, three tables, computer, books-books-books, and much much more. I’ve gotten around to some interior decoration as well – putting up my swedish and my franconian flags on a wall. The endeffect is pretty – although I periodically have to remind myself that my putting up a swedish flag is no longer a sign of right-extremism but rather a sign of keeping in touch with home.
Now that my blog returns to its status of a PhDiary as I actually got a PhD position, I will introduce one flavour of regular postings. Instead of keeping in touch with people by mailing lists, livejournal, and everywhere else, there will be weekly postings here about life as a German PhD student.
So far, my entrance into German academics has had one feature above all else. Bureaucracy.
In order to even look at my contract, I needed to go, specifically therefore, to Jena, to fill out a questionnaire. This questionnaire is geared towards ascertaining that I am a good representant of the German state and its ideals. So, there are questions upon questions upon questions about my involvement with Stasi, my involvment with former DDR, whether I went to party schools, whether I’ve held party offices, et.c. et.c. Not to mention the centimeter-high stack of papers I got home to fill out on my own. With complete curriculum vitae from the age of 14. And Gods only know how many different obscure decisions to be made and forms to be filled in.